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Home > Books > An Essay on Archery > Chapter VI
Chapter VI
Of Arrows.
Part 2 of 5

Thefe ftone-heads have been formerly called Cerauniae, and are reported by Pliny to have fallen from Heaven in ftorms of thunder. Others have claffed them as cryftallizations, and arranged them among the natural productions of the earth. But they were in fact, the heads applied to Arrows, in the early ages of the world, and bear the moil evident marks of manufacture and art. They feem to have been formed by hammering and rubbing.

Thofe which are found in Ireland and Scotland are generally of a mixed brown-coloured flint. Though there are fome in Perthfhire red, which appear to have been the heads of very fmall Arrows, In Ireland, fome of them are made of a flint, almoft as pelucid as an onyx, and nearly of the fame colour. Very fmall Arrow-heads are found in Barbadoes, made of a fiffile talky ftone.70 Inftruments and weapons, fuch as axes, chifels, arrow-heads, the points of darts, and lances, have been found of the fame materials. Dampier formerly, and Cooke lately, difcovered people who were in the practife of ufing thefe ftone tools and weapons; and the Spaniards, at their firft defcent upon America, found no other in ufe among the natives of the continent, and the iflands adjacent; for although the Americans had iron ore in abundance, they were ignorant of its ufe till taught by the Spaniards.

It is remarkable that thefe weapons are made with greater regularity than we might reafonably expect, confidering the imperfections of the inftruments which muft have figured them. They are many of them formed in a manner very difficult to make without breaking, for the part is often long, and very thin. They are exceedingly fharp, and the edges frequently indented like the teeth of a faw. The Arrow-heads likewife, though found in countries the moft remote from each other, are ftill nearly alike in figure. Thofe found in the parts bordering on the ftraits of Magellan are faid, by Dr. Woodward, to refemble thofe of this ifland. He adds his reafons,—" That different men having in view the fame defign, conducting their thoughts in a regular manner, may come, in the purfuit, to the fame conclufion; and, as in this cafe, hit on the fame fhape for a weapon of fuch defign. But it is much more likely, that they came all from the fame origin, and that the firft module was brought from Babel, to the various countries whither the feveral colonies, fent thence, made their migrations."71 (In Plate 2, No 4, 5, and 6, are three of thefe heads.)

The horns of animals have been employed for the pointing of weapons in ancient times; and as wild beafts wore no armour, and favage nations little covering, arms of this kind would be found efficacious, in the hand of the hunter, or warrior. Indeed, it is not an uncommon practife at this day, among thofe nations ignorant in metals.72

We cannot imagine the inftruments of war, before the difcovery of fire, could have been pointed with metal; but the moment the art of feparating that fubftance from the ore was known, metalic weapons would no doubt be fabricated, and introduced in battle. Arrows which ufually had been pointed with horn, bone, or flint, would be covered with more permanent materials. Copper, and what was called brafs, feem to have been firft difcovered by mankind, and accordingly thofe metals appear to have been firft in ufe. Arrows and javelins were commonly headed with brafs, or copper, in the time of Homer, as appears from many paffages in the Iliad.73 Herodotus mentions a wonderful brafs cup, made from the heads of Arrows. He fays, a King, named Ariantas, defiring to number the people of Scythia, commanded that each perfon in his dominions fhould bring the head of an Arrow to him, under pain of death, in cafe any one neglected. From the heads which were collected, a cup was made, capable of holding fix hundred hogfheads; and the thicknefs of the fides of it was equal to fix digits.74

The foldiers of Greece and Rome had not only their fpears, javelins and arrows pointed with brafs, but alfo their whole armour confifted of that metal. Livy fays, the fhield, the bufgin, the helmet, were all of brafs, among the Roman Legions.75

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